Ricardo Vera, the commute and transportation specialist at NCR, works from the lobby of NCR's global headquarters on Spring Street. In his unique position, Vera is able to focus on helping NCR's more than 3,000 employees access alternative transportation options. | Photo by Lillian Shaw
When NCR relocated its global headquarters to Midtown Atlanta in 2018, the influx of more than 3,000 commuters could have easily led to crowded streets and packed parking decks. Instead, NCR is embracing the ethos of its new urban home by actively promoting alternative transit options.
“Our new location is a critical part of our growth strategy,” said NCR senior director of global benefits, Doug Stover. “To complete a successful relocation, we wanted to make sure our current and future employees could leverage the new headquarters’ regional connectivity.”
Commuting by rail, bus, bike or carpool—any method other than driving alone—is easier than ever for NCR employees thanks to the company’s proactive push to provide transit tools and resources while capitalizing on existing state and federal incentives.
So far, more than 800 NCR commuters have taken advantage of the NCR commute subsidy program, which includes the transit pass discount program from Midtown Alliance. This transit pass can be purchased with pre-tax dollars as part of the IRS commuter benefits guidelines. In addition to transit passes, NCR has partnerships with Lyft and Relay Bike Share to offer discounts for additional last-mile coverage. These methods helped NCR rank among the Best Workplaces for Commuters in 2018, the only company from Georgia to do so.
Tools and programs are only effective when people take advantage of them. That’s why NCR took their commitment to connectivity one step further by hiring Ricardo Vera, a dedicated commute and transportation specialist whose full-time job is implementing and advocating these programs and incentives.
In his unique role as the commute and transportation specialist at NCR, Vera is tasked with bringing mobility and flexibility to the lives of NCR employees on their way to and from work. “It’s ultimately about respecting people’s time,” Vera said. Employees find that the ability to use Wi-Fi on MARTA and Xpress buses has maximized time spent commuting and provided a better work-life balance, according to an internal NCR survey.
“I live in Woodstock, so when my team moved from the Alpharetta office to Midtown two years ago, riding the bus into work made a lot of sense. I can focus on my work rather than thinking about how much time I am wasting between the wheel stuck in traffic,” said software engineer manager, David Jaggie. “When I’m on the bus, I’m not stressed from traffic and I’m able to get work done. Once my work is complete, I can relax with a book or catch up on the news with time I wouldn’t have if I was driving myself.”
Though it’s rare for employers to have dedicated commute and transportation staff like NCR, Vera says there are simple tactics that businesses of any size can replicate to encourage transit use. “Some incentives, like the pre-tax benefit, can even be relatively simple to implement. If businesses can set up something as difficult as health care, then the transit tax break is comparably easy,” Vera said.
According to Vera, a lack of awareness of all the options available is the primary barrier to entry for new transit users. His goal is not to make car drivers feel guilty but to make everyone aware of the many alternative transit options that are easy and accessible. Through digital signage, monthly newsletters, online resources and informational events, Vera works to continually engage and educate NCR employees on the diverse possibilities for navigating to and from Midtown Atlanta.
This article is the first in a series that examines the unique, innovative and replicable ways NCR is embracing its new urban headquarters in Midtown Atlanta through transportation, technology and mobility culture. Subscribe to the News Center for monthly email updates from Midtown Alliance.